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MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. The share of officers with combat experience in the Russian Armed Forces has nearly reached 60%, including thanks to Russia’s operation in Syria, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said Wednesday.
"A total of 58% of officers have combat experience today, and I will not hide that today we are certainly using our absolutely legal stay in Syria to give more officers practical experience of combat work," Pankov said.
"We are working persistently in this regard, first of all regarding the crews of aircraft, helicopters," he told journalists.
Pankov said that by the end of 2015, the Russian army was manned with commissioned officers by 92%.
"This is an unprecedentedly high level of staffing, I have been engaged in staff work for a long time, and it has not been like that," he said.
The deputy minister said that purposeful work to recruit commissioned officers who left military service in the previous years is underway.
"Now it’s a stable, good source to staff the army," he said.
The moral and psychological condition and combative mood of Russian servicemen taking part in the operation in Syria is at the highest level, Nikolay Pankov went on to say.
"In Syria, the level of the moral and psychological condition is the highest, the mood is amazing. All who come there note that," Pankov said.
The level of Russian servicemen’s moral and psychological condition has been monitored since 1997, he explained.
"The maximum number of points — 74 — was registered in 2015," Pankov said, adding that Russia's Armed Forces has a professional sociological center conducting surveys.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.
On October 7, 2015, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
In mid-November 2015, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.
Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries.
Russia’s aircraft have made over 5,200 sorties since the start of the operation in Syria.
According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.